11/15/09 – 11/16/09: Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Day 12: Muktinath to Marpha (6.25 hours)
Our first day on the west side of the circuit – is it too late to go back to the east? So far 90% of our hike has been on these things called roads. You may have heard of then – jeeps and buses and motorcycles drive on them to get from place to place. It’s a bit disheartening to trek for hours, only to get passed by buses whose drivers constantly honk their customized horns set to the tune of a bad commercial jingle.
On top of that, it’s windier here than in a class 5 hurricane. Like something out of the movie Twister, I’d swear I saw a cow fly by Zhou’s head when she was clinging to a tree to keep from falling over. As a sick joke to trekkers who just crossed the Pass, the wind is always in our faces, while at the backs of those trekkers doing the easy Jomsom route (as elitist Zhou likes to call them, “trekkers-lite”).
The good news? There are signs here that tell you how far to the next city. I guess we’ll take what we can get.
Day 13: Marpha to Kalopani (5.25 hours)
If you’re ever in Marpha, Nepal, please spend a night at Hotel Chez Nisa, a hole-in-the-wall lodge in the middle of the city. It’s old, the ceilings are low, the toilet is about a mile from the three rooms and the walls are paper thin, but we loved it. Why?
- Right before they served us our dinner, a guy put a bucket of burning coals under our table to keep our legs warm.
- After Zhou had poured most of her bowl of curry on her rice, the same guy came out and refilled her bowl with the leftovers from the cooking.
- The lady who runs the place offered us warm blankets for the night without me having to ask.
- When she saw us heading outside to brush our teeth, she ran from the kitchen and turned on the outdoor lights for us and then poured us a bucket of hot water so we could wash our faces.
- At breakfast she saw Zhou’s hiking stick (the six-foot tall behemoth that I had found for her a week ago) and rather than laugh at it like most of the other locals, she decided the stick was too big for Zhou and replaced it with two appropriately sized hiking sticks that they usually sell to trekkers.
On top of all that, the food was delicious, the portions were huge and the price was unbeatable. Our bill for dinner (two entrees and a shared plate of French fries), the room (three beds and a table) and breakfast (two bowls of porridge and a Tibetan bread) came out to just 715 rupees total, or just less than $10, easily the best price of the trek thus far.
Picture of the Day: This would never fly in the United States, but the symbol with the four dots has been widely-used in Indian culture for thousands of years (but not just for soybean oil).